I am one of those very blessed adults who goes to summer camp every year. I know what a gift this is and I can't imagine not having this opportunity for spiritual growth through service to teens. I look forward to it, eagerly, all year long.
Later today I will pack a nightie, a pair of jeans and a couple of tee-shirts, a fleece, my quilt and pillows, inspirational books (the Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, as well as Mary Baker Eddy's other writings), watercolors, paper, guitar and a stack of Mead Composition notebooks (my journaling medium of choice) and a full box of Bic Blue classic pens into the back of our Jeep and sometime in the middle of the night, with the same excitement of a ten year old, get on the road heading west.
This year is different....in many ways...each of our children are at "other camps" than the one I will be serving at this summer. Our seventeen year old daughter will be heading to South Africa later this summer and will skip camp for the first time in her life. The changes feel seismic and I am praying to know how to be more like the little brook that flows around the shifting rocks, rather than is paralyzed by a change in course.
So...today I am focusing on the things that will be the same and celebrating those lovely changeless summer rhythms in my life that are reminders of the constancy of God's care for my heart, through service to camp.
So...like the old denim shirt with the holes at the elbows and the frayed tail I will pack right next to the new pair of Patagonia high-tech wool blend socks I really needed this year, what are the patterns of preparation that help me recognize this divine consistency in the context of so many wonderful and yet, somewhat unsettling, new elements I long to fold into packing for my summer of service at camp:
- my months leading up to camp have been filled with prayers that very specifically cherish our campers as spiritually mature thinkers and ready and willing healing agents within the camp community. I am seeing yet again all of the ways that this summer community of spiritual thinkers will address global issues metaphysically in a microcosmic way that will have deep and lasting effect on the world community.
- my packing will include putting aside self and bringing to the "table" my "every true desire with Love's will blending". I am remembering all the lovely instances over the years where having left ego and self-interest in the proverbial trashbin before I even climbed into the car to drive to camp, have put the Christ in bas relief in my heart and actions when needed once I arrived on property. This reminder helps me to dig deeply for any roots of desire for personal comfort or seeing this as a well-deserved "break" and pull those weeds up with deftness and a firm but gentle hand...no tolerance for just pulling off the tops of those weeds of self.
- the 1,000 mile drive from my front door to the front porch of my cabin will be quiet hours of "joyful contemplation of good", of deep and humble petitions for "more grace", for silent affirmations of God's working in my heart and my life, the enriching of my affections for service, humility, alertness to duty, for prayer-based clarification of motive, and for the certainty in my heart of the love, love, love-inspired choreography of Spirit throughout the camp community.
- I will pack a heart full of tears shed this year....tears of gratitude, tears of repentance, tears of joy....tears enough for the work at hand...the washing of feet. Tenderly caring for the Christ in every camper, staff and counselor who comes to the door of my cabin, or whom I meet on a dusty camp "road" hungering for a view of themselves that is as good and strong and true as the one that I will never let go of.
So...I have just started my packing...but my preparation for this gathering together of what I need to leave for camp has been long in the works....I have been preparing for this day since I drove through the gates on my way home at the end of last summer.
I am ready for another summer of healing and transforming...in my own heart....so that I can ONLY see God's child in every one I meet along that dusty road...campers, counselors, staff, horses...and yes, even bears!
Stay tuned....letters from camp to follow over the coming weeks!